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Translated fiction and the European Literature Network

  • Submitted: 2nd August 2017

Have you heard about the European Literature Network?

It’s the champion of European literature

Founder Rosie Goldsmith is passionate about helping writers, translators, publishers, booksellers, the media, festival directors, teachers and arts organizations to promote literature from across Europe. And why not, there’s some fantastic books out there that aren’t getting the publicity they need. There are so many good authors in translation and those who should be…the literature of  a country can showcase so many aspects of a country’s  wealth; its people, culture, language, lifestyle, history, social changes and so much more!

The people behind the scenes: James aka West Camel tells all:

European Literature Network

James aka West Camel

“I often edit the network’s monthly Riveting Reviews and I coedited (with Rosie) its magazine, The Riveter. Print copies of Edition One of The Riveter are still available and a pdf can be downloaded here: eurolitnetwork.com. Edition Two, which focusses on Russian Literature in translation will be published on 3 August.

How did you come to work in fiction?

For many years I worked as an editor in the business sector, but I always wanted to work in publishing. I started freelancing for US publisher Dalkey Archive Press, and then spent a short period as a fiction editor there, editing, among other titles, their flagship anthology Best European Fiction 2015. From there are worked for Yale University Press and hooked up with Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books just as she was starting the press. Orenda publishes a lot of translated literature, and as I’ve edited plenty of non-native speakers and translated work in all my jobs, it was a great fit. And Karen and I get on really well!

The Riveter magazine

Your magazine for the Polish theme at the London Book Fair – how did this come about and what’s the story behind it?

Rosie Goldsmith has been running the European Literature Network (http://eurolitnetwork.com/) for several years and has always wanted to produce a magazine about translated European literature – something that showcases European writing translated into English and brings publishers, authors, translators and readers together. Rosie saw the Poland Market Focus for London Book Fair 2017 as an opportunity for a print publication. People still like the printed page, and the Fair was a perfect place to distribute a lot of copies to an interested reading public.

The Network’s ethos is to collaborate on projects that promote literature to new readers, and The Riveter was a great example of this. We had a lot of help and support from the Polish Cultural Institute in London, from the British Council and the Book Fair themselves. Translators from Polish were keen to get involved, and we were lucky enough to bag a Polish-enthusiast star in Deborah Levy to guest edit the magazine.

From there it was hard work and dedication, and some great content and generosity from our contributors. It ended up a great success. On the back of it, we’re planning a Nordic-focussed edition of The Riveter for the autumn.


Do you read a lot of Polish fiction yourself? How did you choose this country’s literature?

I have to confess to coming to the magazine with almost no experience of Polish fiction. We had a few Polish literature experts helping us: most notably our Contributing Editors Anna Blasiak and Antonia Lloyd-Jones, both translators from Polish. They advised us on the selection of titles we should cover. I ended up reading two superb novels by one of Poland’s greatest contemporary writers, Wiesław Myśliwski: Stone Upon Stone and A Treatise on Shelling Beans.

Books set in Poland – Visit them here

The Riveter magazine

The cover is stunning! How did that happen!!

This was another Rosie idea. She knows the illustrator, Chris Riddell, and persuaded him to produce something Polish for us, trusting him to come up with something striking and original – which he did.  The Polish bison, or Zubr, is the biggest land mammal in Europe. It’s a much-loved symbol of Poland and even has a vodka named after it. I adore its serious expression, looking up from its book!

Are you tempted to frame it and put it on your wall?

Yes, indeed. Our production editor has the original … maybe I should pay her a visit….


1-orendaWorking for Orenda books too…

I’m a freelance editor and writer. Most of my work these days comes from Orenda Books and the inimitable Karen Sullivan. Orenda is expanding fast and there’s more and more to do each day.

Around half Orenda’s titles are in translation. We have several Norwegians, a couple of Finns, two Icelanders, a French writer, and soon some German.

I also write reviews for the European Literature Network and other publications, which means, for example, I was exposed to French writer Patrick Modiano and the Estonian Rein Raud. And, for pleasure, I’ll pick up a translated book as often as I’ll pick up a native English one. I’m a big fan of Roberto Bolano, and my ambition is to read all of Emile’s Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series (although I don’t think all twenty novels are yet available in English).


Read more here:   eurolitnetwork.com   and come back tomorrow for a Russian flourish or two…


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